Successful Presales Endeavors

We recently opened the presales office for our newest WOW!, located in Middletown, N.J. This is the fifth presales that we have embarked upon. Our first and second presales took the form of an actual operating club. The presales clubs were temporary in nature; they included selectorized, free-weight and cardio equipment. As soon as people joined, they received free use of our temporary facility. This was one of the ways we built consumer confidence.

Our third presales was much more traditional and entailed us renting a storefront on a major highway near the actual club site. We did not include a temporary exercise facility during this presales. Our fourth presales called for us to rent a 12-foot-by-45-foot trailer. Space was tight, and a temporary exercise facility was out of the question. Our fourth presales was obviously our least favorite.

As you can see there are many different ways to handle presales. The following is a list of suggestions on how to go about planning and implementing a successful presales program.

1. What gets measured gets done: Plan it on paper-tasks, dates and responsible staff. Meet often and review often.

2. Cash flow: Plan it out carefully. Know your objective. Is your goal to raise capital, build a dues base for the future, or a balance of both? Figure out your membership pricing for, during and after the presales.

3. Signs: You can't get your exterior signs up too early.

4. Look successful: Invest in making the presales site look and feel professional.

a. Furniture and decor sends a positive message to the prospect.

b. Add a telephone system. Voice mail and an upbeat message while people are on hold also send a positive message.

c. Invest in some attractive and tasteful wall graphics; a picture is worth a thousand words.

d. Several pieces of exercise equipment won't hurt, but make sure they're simple to understand and demonstrate.

5. Marketing and advertising: Strategically develop your advertising and marketing plan. Be sure not to miss out on telemarketing, lead box programming and joining the local chamber of commerce.

6. Collateral material: Put your best foot forward. Invest in a powerful presales brochure, which can double as a direct mail piece. Four-color graphics are the most powerful.

7. Show people the dream: Models, illustrative floor plans, color renderings and perspectives all help to create a reality of the facility to come.

8. The law: Some states have restrictions on the amount of money you are allowed to collect during your presales stage. Find out if your state is one of them.

9. Free presales space: If you are renting/leasing and your landlord has other available space, you should be able to negotiate free presales space at the time you are negotiating your lease.

10. Sales: Spend considerable time when designing your presales compensation program. This can be challenging based upon laws for presales membership collection.

Just remember that for presales initiatives to be successful, you can't forget the final ingredient: a passionate and focused sales staff. We always spent a considerable amount of effort designing an incentive compensation plan that matches our objectives. Presales is an adventure, so enjoy the trip!

--Stephen Roma owns and operates five WOW! Work Out World's in central New Jersey along with his wife and son. Each WOW! facility is rich with services and full of fun architecture. Additionally, WOW! licenses its name, logo and slogan. Roma can be reached at sproma@workoutworld.com.